Eugene, Ore. -- Some have believed that Illinois' 4x800m record was untouchable.
Over time, many teams have tried to surpass Elmhurst York's enigmatic performance of 7:34.10 set back in 2000 at the Prospect Wanner Invite.
But on Saturday, that all changed. The Hinsdale Central boys became the fastest team in Illinois history, running 7:32.14 at NSAF Nationals at Hayward Field. The performance is No. 7 in high school history and a new U.S. No. 1 time by five seconds.
First, let's go back. The 1999-2000 school year was a magical year for the Dukes, which saw the program get dubbed the greatest distance squad in state history. That fall, they set a new record at the IHSA State Cross Country Championships, scoring the lowest total of points in history (24) as they put five guys in the top 12 in the state. Moving to the track, the Joe Newton-led squad put on a show at the IHSA State Track Meet as they scored 50 points as a distance core to help win a team title that season.
York never ran that squad after they set the record again. The group of John Janulis (Sr.), Peter Stasiulis (Jr.), Tim Hobbs (Jr.), and Donald Sage (Sr.) had nothing left to prove in the event. They were the national record holders in the event. The crazy thing about the whole thing was the fashion in which they won. They defeated the field by almost 26 seconds that day.
Since 2000, however, the story has been about the rise of another program: Sandburg's 2016 team emerged as a squad that could have taken down that mark.
The Eagles fell short that year, running 7:37.36 at state, to set the meet record. A team that included a 1:47 and 1:49 leg on it, as well as eventual NCAA D1 National Champion, Dylan Jacobs.
That brings us to 2022.
After winning a cross country trophy and returning a 1:50 man Daniel Watcke, it was known that the Red Devils would have a solid 4x800m relay during the spring. They started their season off in March as they won the DGS Mustang Relays in 7:53.30 for a very solid jump start. From there, it took us over two months to see them load their squad again- 7:58.88 was the mark that they ran at the McCarthy Memorial Invite to win. Then, they ran their squad without Watcke at the Sectional and State meet. The Red Devils took runner-up to the Sandburg Eagles at state.
The boys decided that they still had something to prove in the event, making the decision to fly out to Oregon to run the 4x800m in a race that had the four fastest teams in the country in it.
Hinsdale Central decided to open up with 1,600m school record holder, Colby Revord. The pace went out hot through the first 200m as he competed with Mound View's Elliott McArthur in 26.3. From there, he tucked into second-place and came through the 400m in 54.59. At the 500m mark, Revord decided it was time to make his move as he was shoulder-to-shoulder with McArthur as Columbus North was working their way into the race again. Revord passed the 600m mark with the clock reading 1:22.3 in first place. With 30 meters to go, he lost the led and handed off in 3rd place as he clocked a 1:53.25 split.
Aden Bandukwala took the baton from Revord, regaining second immediately as he went out in 26.7 and waited for his chance to take the race. That moment came at the 350m mark in his leg, where he passed Columbus North with ease and never looked back. Going out at 55.44 for the first 400m, he crossed the 600m at 1:24.1 and opened up to take a 20m lead as he split 1:52.29.
Michael Skora did not let the lead that his teammate achieved go to waste. Skora looked like he was shot out of a canon, splitting 26.3 through the first 200m. He continued and actually had the fastest first 400m out of anyone on his team, running 54.10. That's where you could see that hot pace catch up to the gritty runner. As he ran a 1:01 for his second lap, still able to hand the stick off in first.
Daniel Watcke, as expected, was given the task of bringing it home for the Red Devils. A blazing fast 400m by Valley Project's James Kisker, put Watcke in the backseat through the first lap. If you have watched Dan Watcke run at all this season, you know that's exactly where he loves to be through 400m. At the 600m is where Watcke really tried to regain the lead. He was successful as they headed into 100m left to go where Watcke gritted out the win for his squad.
NIKE OUTDOOR NATIONALS 4x800 RESULTS
RESULTS 1 Hinsdale Central 7:32.14 2. Ridge NJ 7:32.79 3 Mounds View MN 7:36.72 4 Columbus North IN 7:46.78 5 Tahoma WA 7:48.31 6 Oxnard CA 7:49.51 7 Minooka IL 7:50.32